Ireland is an English-speaking Country… Right? by Erin Riordan

…Well, yes and no. Turns out, English is spoken by the majority of the Irish people, but Co. Donegal is home to many families who speak the native language of their ancestors. Irish Gaelic is actually listed as the constitutional national language of the Republic of Ireland. Technically, it’s Irish Gaelic, but the locals refer to the language as simply “Irish.”

It’s a fascinating language to listen to. I’ve only ever seen it in writing; I’ve never heard it spoken. When I first heard it on the airplane to Dublin, it really shocked me! It sounds a lot like German…which makes sense given that it is a Germanic language (meaning that it came Indo-European descent like English and German.)

To be honest, I never thought I would have a communication issue in Ireland (at least not a language issue), but one bus driver spoke Irish as his first language and English as his very far second… When I tried to inquire about a book I had left on the bus, he didn’t know what “book” was. Finally, I tried “something you read?” and he understood. I think he thought I meant something like a laptop. Either way, I got my book back and had my first in person encounter with an Irish speaker!

When I went to the local store, I would hear mothers speaking to other adults in English, then speak Irish to their children. It was a fascinating experience in bilingualism teaching methods. It really sparked my interest in learning more about the language and gave me a potentially exciting documentary topic for class!

I can already tell this is going to be a fascinating trip and experience! More to come!

Slán agat!
Erin R.


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